Essays, Analyses and Meditations

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The New Pagans

  • Before i left the USA for New Guinea, i met two friends who are emblematic of trends in the West.
  • One is a girl ("A") in her 30s who would like to "date" (which really means "have sex") with men from every culture and ethnic background (she proudly lists her collection of Indian, European, African-American and Chinese boyfriends). The other one is a guy ("B") in his 20s who wants to try all the drugs that exist.
  • When i was in New Guinea, i met the people of a Dani village who are still afraid of their neighbors, the Djali, because they used to be cannibals and still talk about eating human brains as if it were a fact of life.
  • This close encounter with cannibal societies triggered some thinking about collective self-restraint, an invention that was popular for a few thousand years but is rapidly on the way out.
  • Thousands of years ago the vast majority of people would try anything during their lifetime: all sorts of food (including human brain) and all sorts of sex (including incest).
  • Then for reasons that remain largely obscure all "civilized" societies introduced constraints on what is legitimate for individuals to do.
  • In some cases it was about relationships within family and state (e.g. Confucius) and in some cases it was about personal behavior (e.g. Christianity).
  • For example, eating humans came to be forbidden in almost all societies, and incest too, and many other activities (even walking naked).
  • For centuries the vast majority of people would try very little during their lifetimes.
  • The things you were not supposed to do outnumbered the things you were allowed to do.
  • We seem to be moving back to the "try anything" lifestyle of the "pagans".
  • My friends A and B are ready to try anything. They are probably already wondering how human brain tastes.